Bishop Robert and Bishop David experience at the Lambeth Conference 2022

Hundreds of people gathering in person has felt like a thing of the past, but this summer more than 600 Anglican bishops from across the world came together for the first Lambeth Conference since 2008. And a couple of weeks later, there was an even larger gathering of more than 3,000 Christians at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly – the first for a decade.

Both the Bishop Robert Innes and Bishop David Hamid attended the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, Kent. They reflected on their personal highlights, and why, in an era of Zoom and virtual meetings, they believe it is still important to meet in person.

“There is a sense with any kind of a Christian gathering that it is the experience of being there which is important… any event changes the people that attend,” Bishop Robert said. “Two weeks in a conference with other bishops opens you to new insights, it opens you to sympathies and widens your Christian experience and those are good things.”

Bishop David was attending his third Lambeth Conference. He said, “Quite different from a Zoom gathering, a physical gathering does enable you to relate on a much more human level. You get to know people in a very different way. So, when you’re sitting in a small group with them or if you’re lining up with your tray to get a meal or sitting beside them in a cathedral for worship, there is a very different experience. I think that does build a sense of sharing in a particular ministry that can only happen when you bring people together in that way.”

Both bishops believe the Lambeth Conference embodies the identity and unity of the whole Anglican Communion and it will be important to continue drawing bishops together in the future as a visible sign of the Communion.

Bishop Robert said, “We were stronger at the end of the conference than we were at the beginning, so we can feel a sense that we belong to a Communion that is in a stronger place than it was and is something we can be proud to belong to.

“While this conference might seem like a luxury if you’re in the developed world, I think it is very encouraging for people coming from situations of oppression or poverty. The big challenge to Christian unity these days isn’t so much in my view the finer points of Christian doctrine, it is the big justice issues that make experience of life so vastly different depending on whether you live in Salisbury or the Sudan.”